Presbyopia is a funny-sounding word, isn’t it? If you're familiar with myopia (near-sightedness) you might recognize that it has something to do with messed-up vision. But it’s the age-related kind -- basically, as you get older your lenses lose elasticity, and you can’t focus on close objects. Age-related farsightedness starts hitting people in their forties; by 65, pretty much everyone has it.
A report a few years ago on the prevalence of presbyopia said that more than 1 billion people worldwide suffer from it. Sadly, 517 million of these folks had uncorrected vision—most of those in poorer parts of the world, where presumably reading glasses were unavailable or unaffordable. (This would be a nice place to mention an eyeglasses-related charity; unfortunately, the ones I stumbled across were either local or not recommended--so if anyone knows of a good one, please drop a note in the comments).
But there is another subset of middle-aged people with crappy close-up vision that remains uncorrected. This sadly avoidable vision problem, Stubbornopia, affects tens of millions of victims! (Or whatever. I totally made that up, but it sounds likely doesn't it?)
Could you or someone you love suffer from this debilitating condition?
Here’s a handy quiz to find out!
Official Presbyopia/Stubbornopia Assesment Tool
1. When looking at a dinner menu at restaurant:
a. I can read the menu just fine.
b. I put on my reading glasses and have no trouble reading the entire menu.
c. I can make out a little of it but have to borrow someone’s glasses if I want to know the details. But my eyes are just fine! They just never have adequate lighting at restaurants anymore. (Atmosphere shmatmosphere, a tiny candle is not enough to read by!)
2. When working on the computer:
a. I can read the typeface just fine.
b. I put on my reading glasses and have no trouble reading the text.
c. I see just fine once I pump up the computers default setting on the font size. (And if you have Firefox, "Control-plus-plus" is a very handy key combination!) There’s nothing wrong with my eyes, the stupid computer makers just use a default size that’s WAY too small.
3. When looking on the back of a medication or supplement bottle to check the recommended dosage:
a. I have no trouble reading what it says.
b. I just put on my reading glasses and I can read the directions clearly.
c. Why the hell do they make the print so small? NO ONE could possibly read that!!!
4. When performing personal grooming tasks that involve hair removal, like, for example, eyebrow plucking:
a. I can see stray hairs just fine.
b. I use a magnifying mirror since it’s hard to tweeze around reading glasses.
c. What stray hairs? I used to have them but for some reason I don’t anymore.
5. If I reached an age when many of my contemporaries were starting to wear reading glasses, this would suggest to me that:
a. I suppose if that happened, I might need some soon too--but no one I know wears reading glasses yet.
b. My friends have discovered, as I already have, that it is much easier to read and perform other tasks with properly corrected vision!
c. My friends must be aging! Too bad for them! Alas, they aren’t invincible like I am and immune from the normal aging process.
Got mostly A's? Lucky you, you're still a young person!
Mostly B's? You have Presbyopia, and are coping with it in a sensible manner.
Are you like me and have a bunch of C’s? You too may be suffering from Stubbornopia.
(I’ve finally admitted it: I need reading glasses. And you know what? They’ve got ‘em at the drug store for like ten bucks! And they enable you to work on the computer, read restaurant menus, and see all that tiny print out there just like you could when you were younger!)
(And if you're not a fan of glasses, you can get contact lenses for presbyopia now too! And thanks to the friendly folks at 1 800 Contacts for reminding me.)
Anyone else in denial about reading glasses or are you all too youthful and eagle-eyed to need them yet? Any other vision issues you find frustrating?